As a raw food formulator, I work really hard at my recipes. It’s a bit like creating dishes at my restaurant, where I put in a lot of blood, sweat and beers. Except that restauranteuring is a lot trickier since we actually have to cook. As somewhat of a connoisseur of fine food, I’m expected by my patrons to constantly create new dishes that are palatable, insightful, instagrammable, and above all, allows me to charge more than $30 without anyone complaining.
Pet diet formulation, however, is a lot more straightforward. Typically, Shasha wakes me up for work every morning. Being a considerate cat, she would wait patiently till around 6:30am before she flies up several feet into the air and lands on me to shock me into consciousness. A bit like how the cardiac arrest machine works.
After I’ve made my coffee, I’ll go to my work desk, consisting of my Macbook and a notebook scribbled full of notes. Beside me would be a retractable side table on which I have placed a board for me to cut and study new ingredients. Much of the morning would go into researching ingredients, calculating nutrient profiles, analysing meat content and bioavailability and formulating recipes and testing them. Shasha will take up position, perched on the ledge overhead which was meant for books and while I look at her for inspiration, she would return with a truly concerned look. And then start licking herself. The licking would take up the whole morning.
Therefore, because Shasha is useless, the burden of production lies squarely on my shoulders, just as it did for Van Gogh and Hemingway, both of whom, you’ll notice, are already dead. The fun part for Shasha is when I try something new or mix something with an old ingredient and she gets to taste test it. On occasions, she would start with a tentative lick and then start munching approvingly. Other times, she would chew a bit and then spit the ingredient out and give me a disgusted look, as if to say, ‘what do you take me for? A dog?’
Much of what we do is based on the diet of the black footed cat, one of the early ancestors of the domestic cat. You will be surprised how, after 30 million years or so, that the similarities are still uncanny.
Black Footed Cat
In a study conducted in the 90s over a 26 day period, the black footed cat had been observed by wildlife biologists to kill up to 14 small animals a night, making it nature’s most successful hunter. Mostly, it consumed small rodents such as mice and gerbils, sometimes catching a small bird or two, with worms and insects forming a small but integral part of the diet.
This is the ancestral diet of our domestic cat and should rightly be the same diet as our cat’s. Thousands of years of domestication has done nothing to a body that has evolved over 20-30 million years or more to eat what it should be eating naturally in the wild.
So it is puzzling that while kibbles only have a history of 100 years or so, pet food companies could make statements like this:
“After many years of R & D, we have found that corn is still the best available source of carbohydrate when processed and refined properly.”
– Dr. Melody Raasch (IAMS Manager of Scientific Communications)
Even if we ignore the fact that most corn is GMO, the cat still has virtually no use for the carbohydrate at all. Its tiny pancreas has trouble metabolising carbohydrates.
We have been through too many years and spent time with too many pets to see and know the difference between a kibble fed and a raw fed pet. We believe firmly in our Programme of Evolutionary Nutrition which we have created after going back in time to study the ancestral diet. We identified which foods have shaped the genome of the dog or the cat, which tells us what foods we should be feeding them today.
Programme of Evolutionary Nutrition
Based on ancient preys (gerbils, mouse, rabbits, larks, insects and worms). Our meat satchels deconstruct the same preys that the cat would eat naturally so that it would be ingesting the same nutrients as it would in the wild.
Careful Balance of Meat, Organs, Bones
It is vital not just to get the nutrients right but to have them in the right proportions as well. A rodent is not going to be a lump of meat and two sticks of bone. Neither is a bird just a bleeding organ and no skin. Magic happens when your pet is given the right proportions of the right things.
The average pet eats over 10000 bowls of the exact same food every day.
There is no such thing as a complete meal. You don’t get everything your body needs even when you gorge on a buffet. Balance is achieved over time. Each meat type has its unique amino acid, vitamin, and mineral profile. It’s impossible to build the nutrient profile of a mouse from a cow, even if you use all parts available so we craft this from various meats and organs.
That means we use 7 meat satchels to recreate the nutritional value of an ancestral diet consisting of rodent, bird, lizard and insect. A different meal each day – and we switch things up so things are different even on a month to month basis.
No Artificial Supplements
The evolutionary diet focuses only on natural whole foods. We shun artificial supplements because their bioavailability to the animal is often unstable or inefficient and should be administered as a relief only to pets which already suffer from severe nutritional deficiencies. However, we acknowledge that soil depletion has degenerated the nutrient profile of our foods and in areas where we are lacking, we have opted for natural whole food supplements that come with a complex nutrient profile so that nutrient synergy is retained.
As a program, we aim to serve every pet that needs help with a special diet, whether it’s an old pet with decreased vitality or a pet affected with leaky gut, leukemia, kidney or liver issues, skin problems, pancreatitis, diabetes, and even cancer. That means creating an appropriate diet to make life better for your pet. While we can’t create a natural environment for your pet to seek what it needs to eat when it is sick, we will certainly be able to create the food and provide the support that will restore her vitality.
Stay tuned as we wade into the science behind animal nutrition next.